Never Been Seen: a Tool For Curiosity And Creativity


About a decade ago, on my previous blog, I wrote a post called ‘Wikreativity’. The gist: using Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ option to give your brain a random topic to stimulate your creativity (based on Random Word Stimulation).

The other day, researcher/performer/all-round-good-egg Naomi Paxton posted a link to a wondrous web-page that digs into the Science Museum’s vast digital vault to bring you a ‘never been seen‘ image. So I asked her if I could mention it here and she kindly said yes.

As well as being, as Naomi put it, “a unique treat for your eyeballs”, it also makes a great creativity tool. Just see what image crops up and then use it to prompt your pondering about how it could link to magic.

It has two advantages over standard ‘Random Word Stimulation’. Firstly, the images have already been judged to be interesting enough to be catalogued, so they should prove more fruitful at prompting interesting ideas. And secondly, by definition, the images haven’t been seen by many, so you’re less likely to come up with similar ideas to other magicians, than if you created a trick inspired by, say, The Mandalorian.

I’m Going In

Let’s try it now – I’ve just visited the site and got an image of a ‘Pessary, supportive, Hodge, rubber, English, 1870‘. Not an obvious topic for a magic trick, but that’s the point.

Let’s have a quick brainstorm around the object…

  • It looks a bit like a large thick rubber band, so maybe we can scale up some rubber band tricks. I know Michael Ammar published a trick with linking headbands. Maybe there’s something with exercise resistance bands.
  • Pessaries are a therapeutic device, so maybe there’s a comedy magic angle around using classic magic tricks in medicine – Bill Abbott’s cure for the common cold trick could fit here.
  • Or perhaps there’s something about the site itself – maybe a Never Been Seen magic show, where you share the weird and wonderful prototypes and props from your own magic vault (real or fictional). Or a constantly changing show that’s never the same twice.

So, that’s the game: see a random object, brainstorm around it (for literally five minutes), then rinse and repeat a few times. And voila – in under 30 minutes you’ll have a bunch of new ideas for fresh tricks.

And even if you don’t come up with creative gold, you’ll still discover some intriguing objects along the way. You can’t lose.

Enter the vault here:

And if you come up with anything fun (or strange, or gross…) then let me know.